The building at 22 Anacapa Street is facing a number of evictions after city inspectors discovered unpermitted construction work throughout an illegal second story

Paul Wellman

The building at 22 Anacapa Street is facing a number of evictions after city inspectors discovered unpermitted construction work throughout an illegal second story

Funk Zone Funny Business Leads to Evictions

Tenants of 22 Anacapa Street Given Notice Last Week; Fate of Popular Space Unclear

Originally published 3:30 p.m., August 25, 2014
Updated 6:30 p.m., August 25, 2014
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A flagship Funk Zone building is in violation of serious structure and safety codes, and a number of its tenants were hit with surprise eviction notices last week with talk of more kick-outs on the way. But the exact problems and parties affected are murky to the extreme, with the property’s owner, its tenants — who were either unaware or misinformed of the issues plaguing 22 Anacapa Street — and city officials all giving different accounts of how the messy situation came to be and what fallout will soon take place.

Home to Municipal Winemakers (which will reportedly remain at the location), the Muller Aquatic Center, SLTWTR Creative Agency (which has found a new place), three photography studios, a fine arts studio (until it was cleared out last week), a salon, a real estate investment office, and an illegal living space, the long building covered in corrugated metal siding has served as an epicenter of sorts for the area’s modern-day boom of arts, food, and wine destinations. It’s also one of dozens of architecturally ragtag structures built decades ago when the seaside corner of the city was occupied by more blue-collar tradesmen and industrial work yards.

Larry Cassidy with the city’s Building & Safety Division said his office started looking into 22 Anacapa Street after it received an anonymous complaint on April 5, 2013, about a potentially problematic second-story addition. Cassidy said the second story, which is around 2,500 to 3,000 square feet and occupies the back half of the high-roofed, warehouse-type structure, was indeed added without a permit and that inspections sparked real concerns about its load-bearing limits, especially in the event of an earthquake. The property also doesn’t have adequate parking, an issue that has irked neighbors, and the upper level doesn’t have enough exits.

Cassidy said building inspectors have worked with property owner Kim Hughes, his architect, and his structural engineer “from the get-go” to bring the unpermitted addition up to code. In general, Cassidy explained, the city gives property owners the opportunity to either legalize or remove new square footage when it’s added without the proper sign-offs. But for whatever reason, it appears Hughes and his team haven’t completed the necessary work. “We’ve just about run out of leeway we feel comfortable providing them,” Cassidy said, noting his office’s greatest fear is the disaster — like a fire — that could erupt from the illegally installed gas and electric systems at the site. Cassidy pointed to a 2011 incident on Santa Barbara Street during which a man and his dog barely escaped with their lives when their converted living space above a plaster and stucco business caught fire. City officials declined to give more detail on the Anacapa matter, citing the open enforcement case.

Businesses and photography studios line the side of 22 Anacapa Street
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Businesses and photography studios line the side of 22 Anacapa Street

For his part, Hughes lamented what seems like the inevitable loss of some of his “creative tenants,” who he said he spent a “long time handpicking.” He corresponded with The Santa Barbara Independent by email from his home in Nicaragua. A Santa Barbara–area resident, Hughes also reportedly owns houses in Hope Ranch and in Vail, Colorado, as well as multiple commercial properties around the South Coast.

Hughes said he bought the Anacapa Street building approximately six years ago and admitted “much work was done without the benefit of a permit.” Such off-the-books construction is not unusual for the Funk Zone, he said, and asked: “You probably have heard the story about how the name, ‘The Funk Zone,” originated?” Hughes claimed the second story was legally added as a loft in 1994 and that he and his architect had installed more posts and beams to support it in addition to “[reconfiguring] the space to meet the current tenants’ needs. … I believed the building is safe,” he wrote. “My own offices are located in the upstairs.”

Hughes said he’s since learned more lateral supports should have been put in and he’s hopeful “the city is going to continue working with us.” Hughes said the upstairs tenants have been most immediately affected and that he and his property manager issued them 30-day notices to vacate. Some of the downstairs tenants, however, say they were also given notices. The original anonymous complaint to the city came less than a year ago, Hughes claimed.

Of the parking problem, Hughes said he’s been lobbying the city to knock down the chain-link fence that separates the back of the building and its small parking lot from the adjacent public lot along the waterfront, which would “create a paseo into the Funk Zone for much-needed additional parking.” But, he went on, “It is a catch-22. We cannot get the violations removed until we provide parking. We cannot provide the additional parking until the violations are removed.” Lastly, Hughes said he and his team have worked hard to bring the place up to code by conducting gas-pressure tests, installing smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, and adding railings to the stairways.

With yet another perspective on the tricky and still-developing situation are the tenants themselves. No one wanted to speak for the record, but at least two sources claimed Hughes recently promised them the building was completely kosher. They also said communication between them and Hughes and his property manager has been spotty to nonexistent since. Suspect construction had taken place at night over the years, sources said, and that while the city initially planned to post placards last week throughout the second story which would seal off the space within five days, last-minute pleas and complaints to the Community Development Department stayed the closure. Some of the tenants said they expect the second story will either need to be removed or completely redone, and that such work would mean the eviction of the first floor units, as well.

The foggy messages and bubbling bad blood between owner and tenants is reminiscent of an episode in 2010 when more than 20 businesses were kicked out of a Funk Zone work yard on Gray Avenue. In that case, the property owner was either unwilling or unable to meet long-standing demands from the city to secure proper permits around an archaic zoning law, and the space’s electricians, welders, cabinetmakers, and so on were subsequently forced to move or close shop.

Hughes, his architect and engineer, and city officials are scheduled to meet this Tuesday for another check-in. Meanwhile, the tenants of 22 Anacapa continue to either look for new spaces, pack up their things, or speculate about what’s coming next.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Very, very simple:

Step 1: City inspects, notes violations and informs the *owner* of the building.

Step 2: Owner and City work together to try and resolve, ending in failure of owner to resolve.

Step 3: Owner either does not communicate to tenants or communicates poorly/vaguely in order to keep tenants paying rent.

Step 4: City takes action, which includes required full notification of tenants and public awareness.

Step 5: Indy does article (above)

Step 6: Lib Dem SB lefties bash property owners as capitalist pigs that should burn followed by long missives of the struggling art community, poor working people and "no justice, no peace".

March up State Street against Bush anyone? Oh, wait, he's not prez any more... dial it back to Hotchkiss bashing.

realitycheck88 (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2014 at 5:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

With funk, you get funk. A little late to be asking for establishment protecions when anti-establishment is the name of the game in the Funk Zone.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2014 at 5:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Greedy owner. The liveaboards kill the deal again. F'in A
The whole area is 1 complaint away'

easternpacific (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2014 at 6:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

easternpacific (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2014 at 6:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Safety is obviously important, but I also think the city needs to address our obtuse and confounding permitting system. I know this because I have been through it - "the parking lot you purchased isn't large enough for the building that it came with....You can't expand your parking lot without taking down those can't take those trees down without can't have a new parking lot without adding an ADA compliant garbage enclosure...adding that ADA compliant garbage enclosure will reduce the amount of parking you have and now you don't have enough parking for the lot that came with your building...that garbage enclosure direction won't work...sorry, permit to operate your business denied and here's your fine...

Maybe if the system were easier to navigate so many property owners wouldn't try to get around it...

Oh yeah and realitycheck - this is one of those "SB lefty dems" speaking that you seem to know so much about...

Num1UofAn (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2014 at 6:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How does one make an "anonymous" complaint to the City Building Dept.? I know for a fact that one's name and address are demanded and the complaint is made public record.

Is there anyone who doubts the complaining party has an eye on obtaining that property? I, for one, am sad to see the Funk Zone being "revitalized" into gentrified, lackluster, monotonous crap.

My sympathies with the artists and craftsman already displaced in other areas of the F.Z and now those on this property. What a damn shame.

chilldrinfthenight (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2014 at 7:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hughes is a minimalist landlord. He's cheap as can be and does everything possible to remain unseen by the powers that be... Can't really blame him as the city is so f'd up and the people that run the building department are some of the most inept, incompetent bureaucrats the world has ever seen. Talk about nepotism. The city and its staff are living breathing cliches. They live to extort money from business owners and landlords and do as little as possible...

iamsomeguyinsb (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2014 at 8:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Check out the website Transparent California to see what city employees by name or position get paid to be "inept, incompetent bureaucrats". A survey of last names will disclose the degree of nepotism as well. Average city employee is easily $100,000 a year. Nice work if you can get it, but as you point out nepotism may or may not let this possiblity happen.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2014 at 9:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

They should tear it down and build another winery or brew house, there aren't enough in that area.

CManSB (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2014 at 10:01 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Holy f'n crap Jarvis. I knew we were getting swindled but I had no idea how much.

If I didnt just read these myself, I would have never believed it... the total compensation for some of these (most of these) people is astronomical.

These salaries eclipse any in the private sector and there are NO PENSIONS in the private sector. None.

How did this happen and more importantly, how can we reverse this insanity?

iamsomeguyinsb (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2014 at 10:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I was one of those artists that was kicked out of Gray ave, and after months of the yard being stalked by the owner, we were given a few days to completely move out. Some of these guys like Ray's welding had been there for decades, yet there still remains an empty yard. The funk zone maintained its character by being funky, with obvious building violations, livaboards, hodge-podged shenanigans and endless character around every corner, loft and makeshift rooms. It will forever be a part of my spirit. It was a good relationship, the owners would bypass the bureaucratic BS and building codes and the renters would pay low rents and build mostly whatever fitted their needs and creative expressions. I agree, let's build more wine bars, and breweries, and continue to waste the town's water and sanitation capacity on restaurants and bars lol. Dems and Reps work for the same people, so what about simple hush hush freedoms as it seems to work out for most of us freedom lovers. Therefore, we need not fund the building department's reptilian money grubbing agendas. Most of these people certainly are not even locals. Besides, in the event of a tsunami, which there have been many in the geologic and archaeologic record of our area, what's the benefit of dropping in tons of money to revamp the funk zone? or an earthquake for that matter, although generally the two go hand and hand…all those crushed wine barrels will go floating away….hopefully the transplants with them.

cinderella (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2014 at 12:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Good question. How do you reverse this? Glad you asked.

1. Don't vote union for city council, aka Dem Central Comm candidates.
2. Get a majority of non-union council members, and keep them there
3. Watch their back when the unions howl over compensation reform or benefits changes - hang tough, it is the right thing to do
4. Require a fixed percentage of the city budget be dedicated to infrastructure and what is left over goes for personnel
5. Work like crazy at every level to convert public pensions to 401K plans
6. Elect state representative for Senate and Assembly who take a litmus test promise to convert public pension plans to 401K pension plans
7. Educate yourself about the depth and breadth of the problem on the website 'Pension Tsnami". They also conclude 401K is the only answer.
8. Audit city orgnizational structure for mssion, staffing, accountabiliy and efficiences to the modern realities of city governance
9. Analyse duplication of city and county services at every level to see where changes can be made to be more cost effective
10. Eliminate pensions for city council members
11. Stop taking federal grant money that requires city abdicate its decision making autonomy, such as HUD dollars
12. Stop taking city parcels off the tax rolls for subsidized housing or non-profit uses
13. Stop putting permanent low-income housing in high value locations
14. Rescind inclusionary housing mandate - let market forces operate on their own
15. Encourage high-end development, re-invigorate the city core retail base and attract discretionary spenders to come down town.
16. Fund city legal department to defend changes until there is a new operating ethic and organization structure that is sustainable for everyone and not just city employees
17. Restore independent arms-length bargaining with city employees and require anyone taking any form of city employee union member PAC campaign support recuse themselves from future city employee contract negotiations

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2014 at 1:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh that's all...

iamsomeguyinsb (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2014 at 1:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Start with number one, and the rest will follow if you hang tough. If not, things will only get worse. What magic answer were you hoping for?

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2014 at 2:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"They should tear it down and build another winery or brew house, there aren't enough in that area."

CManSB (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2014 at 10:01 a.m.

By all means it must be a winery, a brew house would be way too lowbrow for the gentrification process that is cleansing Santa Barbara of the working-class.

In addition to Cman's comment--which hits the nail right on the head--I also would note that when my neighborhood in Mission Canyon was converting to illegal rentals back in the 90's, there wasn't a thing you could do about it. Where I lived went from a quiet rural area, to one where at times a fire engine could not have gotten through all the cars parked on the street, complete with the noise, college students, and garbage.

Take away message: One must never say "no" to the juggenaught of the education system, (or as C'man points out--the booze industry) but if it's downtown and doesn't involve upscale pursuits, disinfect it and gentrify it.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2014 at 2:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It was rhetorical Jarvis but I do appreciate your lengthy and well thought out list.

We've been fleeced, had, lied to and cheated. And the worst part is that those who stole all the money have pawned their fate onto their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren... For its the next few generations that will have to pay dearly for the excesses of the Baby Boomers and the Lost Generation and their myopic use of public funds and the public trust.

iamsomeguyinsb (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2014 at 3:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

So you are still voting union then?

There were good new options in the last city council race - clear thinking, dedicated, experienced, qualfied, non-union and independent. None of them won.

Do you remember who you voted for?

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2014 at 4:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No shortage of dumbth in Funkytown.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
August 27, 2014 at 10:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I have garages illegally rented/converted as living space, single family structure illegally subdivided into a triplex etc. in my area and the City does nothing, I would hope the policy would be fairly enforced across the board but it is not.

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
August 27, 2014 at 12:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Instead of hiring enforcement officers the city is funneling all extra cash into their own pension fund. So much for our civil servants protecting us. They are only protecting their own pensions today. Besides in progressive utopia everyone does the right thing and no laws are needed because they never get broken.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
August 27, 2014 at 1:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You are all forgetting that the landlord neglected to communicate with the tenants and therefore many hard working locals with small business in the building are now being evicted due to Hughes keeping information hidden from them. Yes, I agree the city is unbearable to work with, but holding back the information on your building to the tenants and leading them to think that all "is fine", then serving notices, is just wrong.

SophiaD (anonymous profile)
August 27, 2014 at 4:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Did you have a month to month rental agreement - a 30 day mutual notice relationship with your landlord, or a longer lease?

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
August 27, 2014 at 6:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No shortage of dumbth in Funkytown.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
August 27, 2014 at 10:18 a.m.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
August 28, 2014 at 2:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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